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Education Poetry

Sick

A free-write on teaching and planning.

It started with a sneeze. And then my ears began to pop. I have inner ear issues anyway, so I thought it was the weather changing (I can predict snow based on how loud my tinnitus is — it’s totally true). I woke up and went to work.

I feel, at this point, obligation to say it’s not Covid. It’s just a cold. Because that’s what we all must say if we are sick from now until eternity. It’s not covid. It’s a cold.

At work, the fatigue set in. Still. I didn’t see the signs. I thought it was the 160 students I teach, or the coming break, or the angst and frustration I feel at administration. Besides, it was a Monday. Surely there are a million reasons I’m tired and annoyed. I wear a mask, I haven’t really been around anyone. Surely I’m just tired.

Then, the scratchy throat, the low voice, the coughs.

At this point I now feel obligated to say that I wear a mask all day everyday, even though I’ve had three covid shots. Even though my state doesn’t mandate it. I do it so I don’t spread germs.

Good thing I do. Because I’m sick.

In — almost — any other job, if you’re sick, you call in and that’s it. Other people may have to work a little harder, or take on some of your normal responsibilities, but you either go home, or you call in. You wash your hands and then go to sleep.

Not if you’re a teacher.

Once I determined that I was degressing, and not progressing, I decided to “call in” for the next day. But this is where the planning started.

Because, you see, someone can’t step in and just “work for me”. I have to leave them with a plan. I have to leave them with a plan they can carry out. I have to leave them with copies and a paper with instructions for each class and seating charts and procedures.

I have to leave them with a schedule, with a list of the kids to watch for. I have to plan it down to the minute so they know *exactly* what to do with each class.

Now, they could just “show the slides” I guess — but lets be real. I’m the one with information in my brain, and I can’t guarantee a sub will have that. So the plan ALSO has to be relevant but something that anyone who knows nothing about history can handle.

So. In essence, it’s off plan for me.

ok…so what?

Well. Number 1, I’m mad that I’m getting colds again. I miss how everyone used to wear masks and wash their hands. You know, the early days of the pandemic when people were still kind.

Number 2: It’s more work to plan to be sick, than to come in with a sickness. And therein lay the problem. I don’t have a strong solution. Sure – I could have thrown together some shit that the kids could have just done, but then I would have been ‘in trouble’ for not leaving a good enough plan.

I think this is what people don’t quite understand about teaching. I won’t lie, summers off is actually quite glamourous. But in return, it means that I’m around 160 teenagers with God knows what on their hands. Teachers do, and will, get sick. When that happens, we don’t get to just “call in”.

It’s planning and preparation, and it’s more than most professionals have to do.

So please, send your kid to school in a mask. It’s the responsible thing to do, because we are still in the middle of a pandemic.

/endrant

By mshipstory

Hi!

I'm Lindsay Adams. I'm passionate about history, teaching, and writing.

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